Media Archive

Animal shelter coming to Milo

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 40, October 01, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

MILO Although only the animal control officer officially in town since June, Val Robertson has definite ideas.

Beyond catching stray dogs and cats, and finding homes when possible, Robertson wants four walls for her four-legged friends.

"What person who loves animals doesn't dream of opening a shelter?"she asked last week.

A first meeting with area residents who share that dream was held last week, Sept. 24, at the Milo Town Office with Robertson leading the charge. The session gave Robertson a chance to share her ideas, and pass along a letter that will now be canvassed to neighborhoods in Milo, Brownville and Lakeview.

"We're going to distribute the letters, take them door-to-door," she said.

The letter outlines Robertson's plan to open a shelter under a town's non-profit status, but to raise all the funds separate from taxes.

And, an accompanying survey asks residents how much they are willing to help out the cause whether financially, or through labor.

"My vision and plan for this shelter is to house cats, dogs, rabbits, and any other abused, neglected or abandoned animal, and to provide a cheerful, safe, short-term holding facility for lost pets," the letter reads. "I am well aware of this need. I am currently keeping a 3-year old German shepherd and 20 assorted cats and kittens at my home, determined to find them a good, responsible home."

In addition to working two jobs as the program coordinator for the Meals for Me program locally and as a cook for Milo Farmer's Union, Robertson has unofficially been the animal "welfare" officer in town for more than a year. Around October 2002, an abandoned dog came under her care, and into her Sargent Hill Drive home in Milo, and word spread around. Many calls poured in when lost dogs were seen wandering, she said. A good friend of Robertson, a meter reader for Central Maine Power, could often identify a dog and help her place it at a residence, she said.

Meanwhile, Julie Gallagher, a close friend and organizer of the P.E.T.S. program a local group who help animal owners with a low-cost spaying and neutering program was taking in the stray cats and kittens.

The last month or so, however, the number of mothering cats and stray kittens has become overwhelming, and Robertson now houses several. "I'm trying to get all the babies adopted," she said, and she is urging adoptive owners to spay or neuter their animals. The proposed shelter will work closely with the P.E.T.S. program, she added.

There also will be a community educational purpose, Robertson said.

The shelter would be a no-kill shelter, said Robertson, meaning that "no animal will be euthanized unless they test positive for a terminal illness or have been injured to the point that they cannot be made pain free and comfortable."

Robertson said she has spoken with Milo Town Manager Jane Jones about the idea, and that she has been receptive. She hopes other towns will support her move as well.

By law, Robertson said the funds raised by the town from dog owners' registrations must be used to benefit animal welfare. In addition, her daughter, Katie a veterinarian technician aims to take a grantwriting course to help the shelter gain operational funds.

Jones, who attended Robertson's first meeting Sept. 24, confirmed that the need for a locally-run animal shelter is real. Currently, any "lost or found" animals are taken to Foxcroft Veterinary Service in Dover-Foxcroft.

"There's an opportunity for a good working partnership" between the shelter and the towns, Jones said. "The need is not in question. It comes down to limited resources."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.